Report by Mark Worbey
Monday 29th December was forecast as being cold, wet and windy with a chance of snow, and that's exactly what happened! The event was the 5th Annual Stotfold Christmas Road Run, which also coincided with Ted Saunders' 50th Birthday. The event, organised by Dave Roberts under the guidance of the Bedford Steam Engine Preservation Society, is always a great social gathering to end the season in the area. Enthusiasts came from far and wide, with many BSEPS members, some from Wales and Avon with others coming from Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex as well those more locally from Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
My day started at 7am at Saunders' Yard as I spent the day crewing on the 1914 Burrell Road Locomotive "Lord Kitchener", No. 3633. There was a hive of activity going on all morning and it didn't even get light until half past eight. Apart from the Saunders engines there were others that had arrived the day before and they were all steaming up for the day's activities.
The run left the yard at 11 am with a good party of followers including the Anglia Regional Television News. The route took in Stotfold and Norton before passing through the town of Baldock, which was surprisingly quiet, arriving back in Stotfold at The Crown pub on the Green. Some engines had gone straight there, including Derek Spearman's Burrell No. 3106 "Princess Royal", and from the Saunders Collection Wallis & Steevens Expansion Engine "Wheatsheaf' and the Garrett 4CD Tractor No. 33488. The 98 Key Gavioli Military Band Organ played festive tunes as the other engines arrived. We were one of the first to arrive with "Lord Kitchener" closely followed by Danny Dovey and crew who had brought Foden 13316 up from Southampton. Another Foden, the Saunders Six Wheeled example, No. 13008 of 1928, soon joined this. Two of the Saunders Showman's engines were out in steam, Burrell "Majestic" and Garrett "Little Billy".
Other engines on the run, all owned by BSEPS members, were Keith Honour's Burrell Showman's "Margaret", Stuart and Chris Gray's Aveling & Porter Colonial Tractor "Clementine" and two six inch scale miniatures; John Mann's Foden "Little Wizz" and Alan Howard's recently purchased Burrell Road Locomotive.
From the Crown, the engines took a variety of routes taking in some of the Stotfold and Arlesey hostelries before meeting back at Stotfold Football Club for the evening. Here the engine crews were treated to a meal. Entertainment was provided by local group "Maxwell's Hammer" and a Karaoke, which proved very popular as always! The event went on late into the night.
The event raises money for Marie Curie Cancer Care, a charity supported by the Saunders Stage Show for many years.